Back in the mid-sixties some guy decided to write an occult horror story from a teenage girl’s perspective. A huge challenge for a debut novel that, in fact, almost never got beyond Stephen King’s round file. Now, 40 years later, a woman residing in Pennsylvania has penned an occult horror set in South Africa, writing from the point of view of a young man. That setting and POV is a challenge Stephen King and his wife, Tabitha, would appreciate. From the first paragraph, I found the writing to be intense, compelling reading. I was grateful that the writer did not end this story with a cliffhanger. But I had two main concerns:
1 – Will it lose steam? And,
2 – Is her choice of South Africa a place that she actually can write of without irritating people who’ve lived there?
Well, for me she pulled off both challenges with skill. I will certainly read the next installment…
Length: Print, 278 pages.
Target Audience/Genre: Seeking Samiel is a Horror novel.
Q – What was the Amazon Rank on the date this review was published?
A – Print version, 4,168,621; Kindle version, 211,177.
Q – How was this book obtained?
A – I was provided a print copy free in exchange for an honest review. The book was so captivating, though, that I got a Kindle version using my Kindle Unlimited account.
Q – Is this a book that I can read without having to read others first?
A – Yes, since this is the first in a series.
Q – Are there a lot of typos/misspellings, grammatical errors or other editing failures?
A – No.
Q – Is this a fast, easy read or is it more of a leisure read?
A – Seeking Samiel is the sort of intense writing that I really admire and wish I could emulate. When you look at the author’s profile page and her photograph, then read the opening paragraphs, you’ll be tempted to say, “No way.” And, surely, you’ll find it a challenge to believe she has ever even heard a single f-bomb, let alone uttered several dozen in a single novel.
Q – What sort of language does this writer use to amplify the points made?
A – Adult English, with a large number of f-bombs. Mind you, the language is representative of the characters depicted, so it is difficult to find fault. Some readers, though, will prefer to steer clear of this book.
Q – My biggest pleasure or disappointment?
A – The intensity of the writing, and my ability to suspend disbelief regarding the setting. I’m not referring only to South Africa, but also to Ancient Egypt. Since I lived in a country neighboring South Africa, and lived in Egypt for more than a decade, I am impressed by the author’s skill.
Yet, I do want to point out the writer does make one error that is all too common regarding the New Testament. The last book is The Revelation, not the revelations. To some, this will seem to be picky. I sort of agree, but
I’ve included a small excerpt below, so readers can peruse the style of presentation utilized by the author.
His eyes skipped from the pavement to the shop’s storefront. Normal looking people drove and walked by. Afternoon sun brightened alleys and cobblestone walkways that ran off the main street. The air held the crisp scent of the sea. He gripped the cell tighter and in a hushed, strict manner, said, “I do think that Eva believes the Book of Revelations to be her legacy. The people at her party, they all believe she is the anti-Christ.”
“I thought the anti-Christ was supposed to be a man.”
“‘Man’ can be interpreted to mean ‘human’. I read Revelations again last night. It says that the anti-Christ will be a man of sin, claiming divine authority, working false miracles and signs. Apparently, her book is full of workable miracles and signs. She claims divine authority, which I know from others I have spoken to, the ones who have admitted to worshipping her.
“You said Jeffrey claimed that he saw people bow to her and to the name of Jesus. I was taught by nuns that at the sound of Jesus name, every knee shall bow above the Earth and under the Earth. Those bowing to her worship her. They hissed when Jesus’ name was said? They were angry that they had to bow to the sound of his name.”
“You just gave me the chills. Do you believe she’s the…
Excerpted from page 109, Book of Samiel by Catherine Jordan.
This first in a series is a remarkable achievement. It is tightly written, with credible references to Ancient Egypt and to modern day South Africa. The writing is solid enough to make it easy to suspend disbelief.
I debated awarding four stars, then five. But, after some consideration, I realized that, warts and all, Seeking Samiel is a five star novel.
What most surprises me is that a novel this well written is ranked at some 200 thousand. By all rights, this should be selling much better than it is.
Comments regarding your opinion of this book or of my review, whether favorable or unfavorable, are always welcome. If you buy the book based on my review and become disappointed, especially, I do want to know that and I want to understand how I can improve as a book reviewer. Just please be polite.